Kay McIntyre came along to tell us all about Guide Dogs WA, and it proved to be very interesting indeed. This training provider was started by Arnold Cook in 1951 and the first two Guide Dogs were a Kelpie/Fox Terrier cross and a Border Collie. These days they are all Labradors, and WA has about 80 dogs available for legally blind people to rely on and to look after. Starting at just a few months old, it takes about 2 years to train a dog, and the first year is devoted to obedience skills. Thereafter the dogs start learning their guiding skills which include walking to the left of and ahead of their owner. When the training period has finished the dogs are matched with a blind owner, and they are then trained in the finer skills such as ignoring people, other dogs, and any food lying around. They are also trained to use public transport, and this includes finding an empty seat for their owner. When they find a seat they put their nose on it, and the owner runs their fingers up the dogs back until they reach the head, at which point the owner knows where to sit down. When it comes to crossing the road, the same technique is used to find the push button, but it is the owner’s decision as to when to cross – guided by the sound emitted by the crossing mechanism. Guide Dog trainers are rare, so a cadet programme has been started. There is also a breeding programme which produced 3 litters in 2022 and 1 so far in 2023. All dogs are trained in WA for WA and the dogs usually work until they are 10 years old. The owners have to be trained too so that the dogs have a predictable and suitable routine at all times. It costs about $50K to train a dog, but everything stays in WA. What a wonderful service!